Air and Space Museum Relaunches Milestones of Flight Hall, Plans All-Night 40th Birthday Party

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will reopen the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall July 1, just in time for the museum’s 40th anniversary — and for the long Fourth of July weekend. It will also throw an all-night birthday party, starting 8:30 p.m., Friday, July 1, at the museum.

Considered the most visited museum in the world — along with the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which opened in 2003 near Washington Dulles International Airport — the Air and Space Museum, with the Milestones of Flight Hall between its main entrances, has welcomed 327 million visitors since it opened on the National Mall in 1976 during the bicentennial of the United States.

“All artifacts in the Milestones of Flight Hall have had a significant cultural, historic, scientific or technological impact,” the museum notes. “The stunning Apollo Lunar Module, previously displayed in another gallery, will serve as the centerpiece of the exhibition. Spacecraft such as John Glenn’s Mercury Friendship 7 will return to the space, along with the Viking Lander, Gemini IV capsule, SpaceShipOne and Mariner 2. A new addition will be the Discoverer XIII satellite re-entry capsule, the first human-made object to be recovered from orbit. Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 will return to the hall, to be exhibited near the massive wind-tunnel fan used by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NACA (predecessor to NASA) and 18th- and 19th-century ballooning artifacts. The exhibition’s emphasis on technology will be represented by objects such as a Turbojet Engine developed by Sir Frank Whittle between 1939 and 1941 and the backup craft to Telstar I, the world’s first active communications satellite. The studio model of the Starship Enterprise from the original ‘Star Trek’ series will be a new addition to the hall, after undergoing a nearly two-year restoration.”

The revamped 19,000-square-foot exhibition space will include a welcome center and “introduce GO FLIGHT, a digital experience designed to allow visitors to make connections with and between artifacts and to share the national collection beyond the walls of the museum,” according to the museum. “Three components make up the experience — a 16-by-12-foot interactive wall in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, a mobile app and a redesigned museum website.”

After remarks by museum officials and supporters, “All Night at the Museum” will begin at 9 p.m., Friday, July 1, and will include activities throughout the night concluding at 10 a.m., July 2. To learn more, click [here](

GO FLIGHT will launch July 1 with the reopening of the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. Follow updates about “Milestones” on social media using #airandspace40 and #MilestonesofFlight.

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